While not Brian Bendis' first creator-owned title at DC, Scarlet #1 brings with it a unique set of challenges. Bendis and artist Alex Maleev have to craft a first issue that serves as a clean and easy gateway for those who didn't read the previous two volumes. But at the same time, they have to ensure that veteran readers are being given a satisfying dose of story after waiting several years for Scarlet to make its return. Fortunately, Scarlet #1 strikes that delicate balance, continuing Bendis' strong track record at DC this year.
Bendis and Maleev certainly picked an auspicious time to resurrect this series, given what's happened in the world at large and Portland in particular since the previous volume wrapped. Suffice it to say, the idea of Portland becoming ground zero in a new American Revolution fueled by social media seems far less outlandish than it did even a few short years ago. This issue opens with Portland cut off from the rest of the US and completely under the control of Scarlet's grassroots army. Maleev paints a chilling portrait of a city under siege. It's easy to forget this book is taking place in the US and not a war-ravaged country like Syria. But that's always been part of this series' appeal. It feels uncomfortably real in the same way comics like DMZ do.